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Eagles fall, 36-14

on September 18, 2010

Kennedy Eagles Captain Isaiah McClain stayed up late last night thinking about the coming game against the Hercules Titans. At school, he visualized playing a “good solid game.”

“All day long I thought about running someone over on the other team,” said McClain with a grin.

Now he’s on the team bus just minutes away from Hercules. “Yo, the JV is leading 14-6,” announces Coach Clyde Byrd. The bus, packed with varsity players and cheerleaders, breaks into cheers.

“Hey, you all too loud!” shouts McClain to his teammates in the back.

The voices settle.

“We’re not on a power trip or nothing,” he says about his captain duties. “We have mutual respect for one another and just keep each other in line.”

On the field, the varsity watch as the Kennedy JV grabs a win for the Eagles. Principal Roxanne Brown-Garcia hands out homemade sandwiches and drinks. “Who needs more water?” she asks.

Principal Brown-Garcia hands out homemade sandwiches for the entire team.

The varsity prepares for the game. “When the game gets closer, we’re silent, no smiles and all business,” McClain says.

The players line up two by two and take the field holding hands—for unity and brotherhood—according to one of the players in the line. Some of the players in the back of the line don’t hold hands and walk a bit behind their team.

“Focus—you came to play as a team and win!” shouts Principal Brown-Garcia.

The loudspeaker plays “Crazy Train” by Ozzy Osbourne and the crowd gets louder. The players grab onto one another’s jerseys and shout,  “Let’s go!” and, “We got this!” as the game begins.

The Kennedy High School drumline plays in the stands. They’re mostly ninth and tenth graders and all beginners.

“This is our first game and it was just organized today,” says Kennedy band leader Walter Gray. “Principal Brown-Garcia just asked us to step up today and so here we are.”

Mostly girls play the nine drums in the band and they keep time with the cheerleaders and the music on the loud speaker. “They’re all very eager,” says Gray.

The Kennedy drumline performs at its first game.

But the Eagles fall behind 22-6 by halftime. The captains encourage the team to stay disciplined. “It ain’t over,” says McClain. “You gotta stay disciplined.”

“This individual stuff has gotta stop!” cries Byrd.

He calls on number 80, Eric Mims, to come to the front.

“Tell him you’re open!” says coach Byrd pointing to the quarterback, Rob Mulder. “I’m open!” shouts Mims, raising both arms. The quarterback makes eye contact with his teammate and nods.

In the second half, Kenneth Walker returns a punt for an Eagle touchdown and McClain adds a two-point conversion to close the gap, but the game ends in a 36-14 loss.

Coach Byrd gathers the team around him in a huddle.

“This was my fault,” says Byrd. “I overlooked this team and we were not prepared,” he adds. “I let you all goof around in practice and didn’t say anything. But that’s going to change tomorrow.”

Principal Brown-Garcia encourages the players as they leave the field like they came. “Keep your head up,” she says. “You gotta know how to win and you gotta know how to lose.”

Hercules cheerleaders greet the Eagle squad before game time.

Isaiah McClain is the last player to leave the field. “We just need to keep focus and be more disciplined,” he says.  “But it’s just one game,” he adds as he walks to join his team for the bus ride back to Richmond.

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